“Traduttore, traditore?” Translating human rights into the corporate context

Marisa McVey*, John Ferguson, François-Régis Puyou

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper critically investigates the implementation of the UN guiding principles on business and human rights (UNGPs) into the corporate setting through the concept of ‘translation’. In the decade since the creation of the UNGPs, little academic research has focussed specifically on the corporate implementation of human rights. Drawing on qualitative case studies of two multinational corporations—an oil and gas company and a bank—this paper unpacks how human rights are translated into the corporate context. In doing so, the paper focuses on the “resonance dilemma” translators encounter, the strategies used to make human rights understandable and palatable, and the difficulties that emerge from this process. We contend that the process of making human rights understandable and manageable can change their form and content, which may act as an obstacle to human rights realisation and corporate accountability for human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
VolumeOnline First
Early online date19 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2022


  • Business and human rights
  • Translation
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)
  • Responsibility to respect
  • Resonance dilemma


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